McDonnell should sign HB 1160

Sitting on the Governor’s desk is HB 1160, a bill patroned by Del. Bob Marshall that would prohibit Virginia National Guardsmen, police and other officials from participating in:

…the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of any citizen pursuant to 50 U.S.C. § 1541 as provided by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Marshall’s bill passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly. The Governor appears to have some qualms about signing it:

Through a spokesman, the governor has expressed serious reservations, saying that while he does not condone the unlawful detention of U.S. citizens, he has concerns about unintended consequences it could have on joint terrorism task forces and information-sharing between state and federal agencies.

This is ridiculous.

As Bart Hinkle reminded us yesterday, on the anniversary of James Madison’s birth:

Too many conservatives feel complacent about soldiers arresting citizens without charges and holding them indefinitely on the mere suspicion of cooperating with al-Qaida. Perhaps they do not remember Madison’s warning that “the means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” But they ought to remember the early 1990s, when militia groups sprang up in the wake of Ruby Ridge and Waco to defend the Constitution against what the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre termed the “jack-booted thugs” of the federal government. Just because the Bush administration adopted indefinite detention doesn’t make it a good idea.

If they cannot remember even that far back, then perhaps they can remember all the way back to 2009, when outrage erupted over a Department of Homeland Security report that focused on domestic “rightwing extremism” — including returning veterans, abortion opponents and anyone “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority.” Some people who call members of the tea party “terrorists” think they are speaking literal truth.

Conservatives who cannot remember even back to 2009 at least ought to remember that any indefinite detention would be ordered by the same authorities who are nationalizing health care and trampling the First Amendment rights of Catholic institutions. Distrust of federal authorities is a good thing and should not be summarily suspended just because someone utters the two magic words: “national security.”

He’s right.

Do Mr. Madison a solid on his birthday, Governor: sign the bill.